Looking Back By Monica Stewart

FROM THE FILES OF THE
REYNOLDS COUNTY COURIER
25 YEARS AGO: July 9, 1992
Joan Stevenson Falcone, daughter of the late Marshal Stevenson and Imogene Stevenson of Ellington, recently graduated from Illinois State University with a Doctor of Arts Degree in English. The doctoral degree is the highest degree which can be awarded by a university; it allows one to enter the profession of teaching and research at colleges and universities as well as various other research institutions world-wide.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that Centerville R-I, along with 14 other Missouri school districts, will receive a total of $101,533 in federal grants to help start school breakfast programs during the coming school year. The grants are part of a five-year effort that began in 1990 to extend the School Breakfast Program into interested schools and districts. This year’s awards from the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service totaled $5 million and were given to school districts in 26 states and the Virgin Islands. An additional $5 million will be provided each year through 1994.
Progress is a subjective term. Nowadays, we hear all too often stories of machines performing jobs in a more efficient manner than men and women. To an employer, this is a good thing; to the person put out of work, maybe not. That sentiment could hardly have been in the minds of the works crews busy building the (then) new Highway 21 upon the arrival of a certain new machine in 1938. Toiling over small hand scoops, the advent of this huge, oddly shaped contraption must have seemed a godsend.
The four-wheeled scraper was device never before seen in this part of the country. Built by the Continental Roller Mill Company of Gary, Ind., the CS-12A was a prototype model sent to Reynolds County to test its mettle. Although earlier models had worked the loamy soils of Illinois, the rugged, rocky hills of the Ozarks were to be the real proving grounds of the fledgeling company’s only product. Pulled by a crawler/tractor, the machine was billed as being able to move over 500 yards of dirt at one time, an unprecedented feat for the period.
Arriving with the new machine was a young man, around 21 years old, by the name of William J. Adams Jr. The son of Continental’s owner, Adams was sent along to act as a demonstrator and troubleshooter. He was also to act as an engineering consultant, filing daily reports on the performance of the machine in the rocky soil and suggesting improvements to the prototype’s design for later models. Adams brought his machine during the highway project’s phase that extended from the present Highway HH to the base of the Second Street hill. No road existed there at the time.
“It was a learning experience down here,” Adams exclaimed during a recent visit with Reynolds County Historian Gerald Angel. He referred to the not-so-smooth transition of the machine’s performance from the soft Illinois soil to the Ozark rock. “The cutting blade would last about four hours in the Reynolds County dirt,” he told Angel. But in spite of the hitches (and, presumably, frequent re-welding of stressed parts) the machine did well and, indeed, revolutionized the earth moving process.
The Ellington City Council approved unanimously a motion to resurface a portion of South Road in a special meeting held on Friday, July 3. The street project is to begin on July 10. The extent of the resurfacing is, as yet, undetermined, but will begin just south of Buffington Bridge. Ideally, the improvement will extend to the city limits, a distance of 1 3/10 miles.
The Reynolds County Commission is urging voters to support passage of Amendment #8 which will appear on the Aug. 4 ballot. This amendment would increase by 5% the county’s share of receipts from the six-cent gas tax approved earlier this year by the state legislature. Presiding Commissioner, Donald Barnes explains that Amendment #8 does not involve a tax increase; but would keep a larger share of the gas tax at the local level for road and bridge repair.

 

Progress, Circa 1938
LOADED AND READY TO ROLL, the first Continental Model CS-12A Four Wheel Scraper prepares to move a load of Reynolds County dirt from the (Old) Highway 21 project. The prototype scraper revolutionized the earth work portion of the road project.

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